Winter hasn’t officially arrived yet but it sure feels like it here in western Washington. It’s been downright chilly here this past week and we saw the first snow flurries of the year this morning.
Which brings me to the topic of gardening and farming regions.
What do you think of when you think of Washington State? I’m willing to bet nine out of ten people would say “rain” when asked that question, and they would be woefully incorrect with that answer. The fact is that Washington is really two separate states when discussing climate. The western side of the state, where Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and, in fact, the majority of people live, is in a marine climate. Temperatures are fairly mild year round and we get somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 inches of rain each year. There are, in fact, quite a few cities in the United States that get much more rain than western Washington, many of which are on the east coast.
The eastern side of the state has much more dramatic weather and temperatures and far less rain.
This all leads me to the point of this little sermon: you must know your particular region when planning your garden. Buying seeds that do well in Iowa is not a recipe for success if you are located in New York, and trying to grow some plants in Wisconsin that once did well in Georgia where you previously lived is also a gardening disaster waiting to happen.
While on the topic of crops, don’t forget the value of rotating crops. Crop rotation is a farming approach that became quite necessary during the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Since that time it has become recognized as a reliable method of planting. Yes, your tomatoes did well in the backyard last year, and the year before that, but that does not mean they will continue to do well in the same spot year after year after year.
Crop rotation guards against insect infestation. Crop rotation guards against the severe loss of nutrients in the soil. Keep that in mind as you plan your garden for next spring.
WHAT’S UP ON OUR FARM AS DECEMBER APPROACHES?
All the mundane cleaning up has been done on our urban farm here in Olympia. The structures where we house our animals and birds have been winterized and reinforced. Our main job now, with colder weather, is to make sure the animals have a constant supply of water, so each morning we go out and make sure the water hasn’t frozen. A couple times each week we clean out pens and replenish with fresh hay. Last winter we didn’t lose one animal or bird to the weather and we plan on keeping that record going this winter.
Happy Winter to you all!